1000 - 900 BC, the Holy Land

The tenth century saw the rise of Israel to the status of respected empire - and its inglorious division.

David's greatness and skill and his well-trained forces allowed him to drive the Philistines back to their coastal cities and re-establish Israel as a territorial state. He made an alliance with the Canaanite cities of Phoenicia (never competitors: their conquests were of the sea), built a palace, and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, making the City of David the religious as well as the political center of the kingdom.

The potential of unified Israel was swiftly realized under David. Moab came under his control. A war of reprisal against the Ammonites won him their territory and that of their allies, the Aramaeans, as well. This meant that the new Syrian nation of Aram was a tributary of Israel. When Edom was taken, the conquest of the Holy Land was complete; Philistia remained in its cities under Israelite domination and the cities of Phoenicia were firmly bound by treaty.

At David's death around 970 BC, Solomon inherited the throne. David had expanded the kingdom; Solomon developed it. Iron was turned to tools of peace and a virtual agricultural revolution resulted. Villages became towns, towns cities, and great cities greater. David's work of fortifying vital points like Megiddo was continued. The ancient mines and smelters of the ARabah were rebuilt to fill the growing need for metal. Phoenicia and Syria had exploited the trade routes of the Mediterranean and Asia; Solomon built a fleet on the Red Sea which sailed south to the new Arabian kingdoms of Minaea and Saba (Sheba). The riches of the Fertile Crescent flowed into Jerusalem where Solomon built a great temple to house the Ark of the Covenant.

Yet amid the grandeur were the evils of monarchy foreseen by Samuel. The vast building program meant extensive and efficient taxation and regimentation of a people with a free, nomadic tradition. Close contact with many different sophisticated pagan cultures inevitably brought admiration and some adoption of their ways, religious and material, especially in the wealthier north of the country.

There was some trouble during Solomon's reign - Edom was restive, Damascus established itself as an independent city-state, and rebellion erupted briefly in the north led by Jeroboam of Ephraim with the gleeful support of Shishak of northern Egypt.

Solomon died about 931 BC. His son Rehoboam succeeded to the throne of Judah and traveled to Shechem to be crowned king of Israel as well. But what the northern tribes had done once, they agreed to undo; the refused to accept an intransigent tyrant and instead made Jeroboam King of Israel.

Shishak pounced upon bereft Jerusalem in 918, carrying away the treasures of the Temple and rampaging all theough the weakened Holy Land. By the century's end, the empire was a house divided and Solomon's brief glory was gone.

In Judah, Rehoboam was succeeded by his son Abijam and grandson Asa. Jeroboam's son-successor was murdered when Baasha seized his throne.

Posted by John Read more Comments (15) 17.01.